Various thoughts: free thinking, theism, faith, reason

Note: This post is a response to a comment on a blog post (link). I knew my response was going to be long and, to be honest, I did not want to type all of this in those small comment boxes found on WordPress. I decided to do it as a blog post and open the floor for discussion but feel free to visit Steve’s blog and join that discussion. Any text in bold are not my words but are quotes from the comment to which I am responding.

Before I begin, I do not claim to be a free thinker mostly because I do not know what that truly entails other than what is found in the dictionary. I am not atheist but I do not know what I am. The closest label that I know that describes my spiritual beliefs would be a deist. However, I do not necessarily subscribe to those beliefs.

Science and faith are not mutually exclusive. When talking about these matters, there is a quote by Thomas Paine that I like to use because it fits my beliefs.

The word of God is the creation we behold and it is in this word, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter, that God speaketh universally to man.

If one thinks about it, an argument can be made that science is the study of Creation. A key limitation of science is that it is incapable of proving or disproving the existence of a Creator. That is not a question that science attempts to answer.

If scientists claim they KNOW what happened on primordial Earth, non-living materials, be it gas, chemical elements, electrical charges, but can’t replicate it, is this not like saying “I know everything there is about a combustion engine, just don’t ask me to make one because I can’t?

A real scientist will not make the claim that we KNOW what happened on primordial Earth. It is impossible to observe what happened. This means that scientists “guess” about what could have happened and perform experiments to see if their hypotheses are plausible. Research continues into this area for the simple reason we do not know what happened.

Keep in mind that man is fallible and by extension this includes scientists. This is the reason for the scientific method and peer review. Science is really an iterative process in which we expand our knowledge through trial and error. Dismissing science because it does not get it right the first time is demanding the impossible.

Let’s take Darwinism into account. Let’s say that by some unexplained and unproven (nor unprovable at this point) set of events, these non-living materials, after billions of years (for the earth, 4.5 billion years according to the estimate I’ve heard), some life form did come about. What did it feed on, be it plant or animal or single-celled creature?

There are theories that address this question. While I am not familiar with all of them, one of the more popular ones is that these early forms of life clustered around hydrothermal vents. The heat from the vents provided the energy and building blocks that sustained these early life forms.

Is it possible that an asteroid crashed into earth, breaking apart and releasing living cells? Sure, I’ll give that one up but do organic cells require an atmosphere in which to live? Seems unlikely that an asteroid would have living organic cells, but still, may well be possible.

The idea that living cells arrived on Earth on comets is a consideration; many scientists would agree that it is unlikely, however. Another problem with that theory is that it shifts the question to another celestial body. It is known that comets and asteroids can have organic compounds that formed on them with ultraviolet light being the energy source for the reactions. When they crashed into Earth, those compounds added to the ones that formed here.

We hear a lot from scientists and sometimes their findings are determined by who is footing the bill, i.e., follow the money and you’ll know the conclusion of a study before it’s published.

This is indeed a problem which is why there is a peer review process. Even then, the process is not perfect and junk science gets published. I strongly suspect that there are even elements of confirmation bias and political correctness in certain disciplines. Skepticism in the true sense of the word is essential. That said, the bad apples do not invalidate the whole body of scientific knowledge.

Should we then base our entire “faith”, being closed to all other possibilities, on “a minuscule sample size”?

If we were to assume that scientists placing the odds of life happening by chance being mind boggling low are correct, it still does not disprove that it did not happen in that way.

Consider the lottery as an example. With the odds of winning, it is very likely that there will not be a winner on a given week even with all of the tickets sold. Going months without a winner is not uncommon. However, each of those tickets has a chance of being a winner and with enough tickets sold, there will be a winner.

Essentially, this is a possibility because there are billions of stars. Each of those stars (at some point their lives) had the possibility of having a planet in the habitable zone and on each of those planets, reactions that could produce life happened billions of times (if not more). Over the course of billions of years, it is plausible that the right set of circumstances came about.  While the odds of it happen is mind bogglingly low, the number of opportunities is mind bogglingly high.

The truth is that we do not know what the odds of life happening by chance is. The only sample available to us is Earth and the other planets in this solar system. That is a sample size of only one star out of billions and is nowhere near a statistically valid sample.

This does not prove that the Creator did not direct events to cause life to happen. However, that is a claim that cannot be addressed by science and thus it requires faith.

I have to look at some of the current crop of well educated people, some I personally know … who think God, or whatever one wishes, does exist.

A question that I have is, do they say that God does not exist or do they say that there is no proof of God? There is a subtle distinction between the two statements. Saying that God does not exist is a belief as that claim cannot be addressed with science (atheism). Saying that there is no proof of God is a true statement but it leaves open the possibility that there is a God (agnostic).

As to microevolution, there is no doubt in my mind. As to macroevolution, I’ve doubts as did Darwin, Leaky and others who’ve studied the living physical structures of the planet.
(Some, justifiable so, would point out that the limb structure of whales are very similar to that of land mammals and that man and some animals have similar structure…….. Does this prove macroevolution? Could be viewed as so. However, does it not also suggest intelligent design? If a design works, why would one not use that design, perhaps with modification, to fit numerous units. For example, when the wheel was first invented, whenever that may have been, why was it used on carts, water mills, chariots….. Because it worked better than a square, triangle….)

I am not familiar with the terms micro evolution and macro evolution. So, I am going to have to muddle through this with my understanding. I think that the concept of micro evolution is not controversial because it is the mechanism behind selective breeding and we can observe it.

Macro evolution (which I am going to shorten to evolution) is not so clearly established. As with everything in science, it is a theory that is supported by evidence. It cannot be proven because what we can find in the fossil record is incomplete. That said, we can observe creatures becoming more complex as times progressed.

Again, none of this proves or disproves the existence of a Creator. If anything, it describes the process by which the Creator would have used to create life as we know it.

Side Note: I would like to point out some of what I have observed about free thinkers. I noticed some free thinkers will make the argument that if something cannot be proven, it means that it is not true. This is a known logical fallacy (ad ignoratum). For example: since scientists cannot replicate the conditions of primordial Earth that resulted in life happening by chance, means that life did not happen by chance. Confirmation bias seems to be an issue. Evidence that does not support a predetermined outcome gets dismissed or ignored. Just some things to think about.

10 thoughts on “Various thoughts: free thinking, theism, faith, reason

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      1. No Tums needed! I found it incredibly interesting and well done! I think the one issue I might have with it is when you wrote that scientists are not trying to disprove the possibility of intelligent design. Many might not be but I suspect that some of them are. Of course as you said these people do not discredit the others who are trying to determine what the truth is.

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  1. A ‘quote’ that comes to mind: For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (Romans 1:20)
    A philos. Prof once professed that we can’t really even know our own thoughts or give “objective” rational for our actions (we are very subjective). Like a man who has a rifle and pulls the trigger. Was it really him in his mind choosing to pull the trigger, or ‘his finger’? Questioning our very being as ‘free creatures’ making a ‘uninfluenced’ decision based on our free will. What or who made him ‘pull the trigger’. Of course, there’s no real conclusive answer to that, is there? And “that” was the point.
    Thoughts and ‘thinking’ are a “reflection” of those in whom they abide. “Where do thoughts come from? And where do they go when they leave us?” Some thought seem to be like the wind and we have no “power” over them, but sometimes they can consume us, especially when we think we own them or take claim of them – not realizing that they’re really ‘owning us’ making us “think” we’re in control. Can I prove that? Have you ever experienced it? Everyday, if you’re consciously aware of it. “Where’d that thought come from? … hmm.” “What was that thought I just had …?”
    Like this writing I’m doing. I have a main thought in mind to communicate something of Value, Truth and Worth (choosing to commit precious time and effort to do it!). But, there’s a flow of consciousness going on, which most likely you had when you in your ‘personal way’ composed your writing – even if you took notes, made an outline and filled in the spaced. You had a foundation by which you worked from and to the best of your judgment thought it a strong, trustworthy base.
    A question that comes to my mind to focus this more in the substance of content, not desiring to go down any rabbit holes or being swept up in Ivory Tower thinking, rather just basic standing on common ground by which to consider things; that may or may not matter in the great scheme of existence or even influence our lives. Like wind blowing dust around, which we don’t want in our eyes, preventing from ‘seeing’ (perceiving).
    If you had a chance to know God personally, would you want to?
    Isn’t that where ‘Faith’ begins? “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1) When something ‘has substance’ that says alot! Does Science have substance?
    “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor 2:14
    Well, how can these things be “known” if they’re “spiritually discerned?” Where do we “get” this spiritual discernment? Are all spirits that commune with us of God? Aren’t we told that some are actually ‘fallen spirits’ not to be trusted! If that’s the case, we’d better have the right one teaching us this ‘discernment.’.
    Some might argue ‘the validity of that statement’ above, from the Bible, because they “don’t believe” or consider the source is reliable’ (so goes their teaching). But, they’ll readily believe men and theories that can’t be proven: that they came from apes, evolving from a single cell that just happened to become or landed on earth, which came into existence when an ‘event occurred’ (‘the big bang’ (theory out of “nothing” something (Life) become). Now that really take ‘some believing’ doesn’t it! {“We have to pass the bill to know ‘what’s in the bill” type of thinking, note the ‘spirit behind that confusion.}
    The secular mind doesn’t want God, and would rather be planted here by aliens from a different galaxy (which they believe exists because they’ve been “told” about universes and galaxies exist by ‘scientist’) ~ not wondering or questioning ‘where these aliens came from’ or how they ‘came to be.’
    If all “of this” is shoved thru a funnel filter and put it in a furnace for purification, like gold and silver, what remains must be something of worth and value, would you agree?
    With that thought, consider this: The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Ps 12:6 Can man boast about his ‘grand thoughts’?
    Back to my question, if you answered “Yes” to “Would you like to “know God?” Here’s somethings to consider, He states: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Is 55:8-9 But He also say, “Come let us reason together ..” Isiah 1:18 (an interesting verse that ‘undiscerning mind’ dislikes).
    So, the only way you, me, Steve or anyone else can know Him, the God of Creation, is if He reveals Himself to us. If you were God who would you choose to reveal yourself to? [He even revealed himself to a ‘religious Jewish zealot ~ a fanatic’ who was going around persecuted HIs people and killing them. This man became one of HIs noted apostle, and was given the Gospel of Grace (Christ) to share with the world. How’s that for ‘changing someone’s thinking!’]
    What does that have to do w/ you train of thought in this posting? Very much. Because the very brain, or mind, you ‘used’ to write this post was given to you, and your chose to write what you did. We did not create ourselves. We are limited by what ‘we’ve learned, been taught and know.’ And “what” we ‘choose to take in’ ~ is that really us ‘choosing’ or our “social conditioning” kicking in? and the way we process it. Like a computer program and software.
    You stated at the beginning, “I do not know what I am.” Those words contain life and that life belongs to a Creator ‘where words began’ and originated.
    “And God said ..” By His Word he SPOKE “LIFE into being”. That could be considered (like you’ve suggested) as the ‘big bang’ in a way (in your previous comment on Steve’s blog).
    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
    “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:” Col 1:16 Created by him, and for him doesn’t go over well with wo/man’s pride and flesh, who want to be ‘god’ over themselves and their live ~ beguiled that ‘they can’ (back to the philos. Prof. example).
    “And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:”
    Here’s an example of God reasoning with Job: speaking about ‘where was anyone when He created all these things in the visible and invisible’. Just as any book the writings in Scripture have a ‘mind’ of the One who wrote it. Science has a ‘science mind’ and the Bible, well, the “mind of God.” So take that into consideration if you choose to view those verses ~ might help.
    “Ways of thinking” determines who a “person is” or “will be,” but it’s said: There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Prov 14:12.
    Knowing ‘what’ we are means ‘classification’ and follows suit with the high-minded teachings of this world. Knowing “who we are” … that’s our essence, our substance, our being
    Your definition of “faith” might answer more than you knew,‘who you are, or who you aren’t’.
    Faith is not ‘wishful thinking’. It’s not ‘theory’, nor does it depend on man for its “being”. It IS ~ just as Wisdom and Understanding are. And is kin to TRUTH, which if we open our ‘thinking’ we find is actually a person. This is not ‘out of the box thinking’. There is no box.
    “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” He wasn’t kidding. He knew who He was (and is) and those who have received the Truth, are made free to believe it. No imagination, just fact. Like breathing. We do that without ‘thinking’! Faith isn’t ‘pleading with us to make it real’! If anything Faith makes us “real!”
    If you read Hebrews 11 (KJV) you’ll see that the ‘substance’ of Faith is really a quality of God Himself, His Word and all of Life (here and Eternal), making things possible that weren’t without Him being involved. This speaks to the real TREE OF LIFE, not the fake and imitation we’ve been taught to believe, by the adversary of our souls. The Tree the ‘serpent’ turns peoples eyes away from, so leading them astray to eat of his matrix and illusion. The very Tree that gives Life and True Hope (expectational), Eternal Life ~ found only IN CHRIST, the Son of God.
    Granted this discourse moved away some from your writing, but let’s just consider that the train moved onto a different track and direction where its now stopping at a station. You can chose to ride the train and meet the Engineer, the Conductor and Porter, or get off. The train will be continuing on and the Conductor’s calling out ~ “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” Inviting you!
    Saved from what, you might ask? From “Not knowing Him” who is LIFE, the LOVER of your soul and the Truth you’re longing for, Hoping for! Now ‘that’s real Faith’ “free will in action”- knowing, so you “can” believe the truth!
    Thanks Terrant.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Some might argue ‘the validity of that statement’ above, from the Bible, because they “don’t believe” or consider the source is reliable’ (so goes their teaching). But, they’ll readily believe men and theories that can’t be proven: that they came from apes, evolving from a single cell that just happened to become or landed on earth, which came into existence when an ‘event occurred’ (‘the big bang’ (theory out of “nothing” something (Life) become). Now that really take ‘some believing’ doesn’t it! {“We have to pass the bill to know ‘what’s in the bill” type of thinking, note the ‘spirit behind that confusion.}”
      I love that portion Zip! Dr. Peter Kreeft in his book “Handbook of Christian Apologetics” makes almost the same point. He asks why people are so willing to question the what is in the Bible just because it is in the Bible, whereas they are willing to accept other ancient writings as legitimate? I think the answer is because these people read the Bible with a prejudice; they read it to disprove it rather than reading it with an open mind in an honest attempt to learn from it and then make a decision.

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      1. A book that deals w/ much of this: Merchants of Doubt “Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming is a 2010 non-fiction book by American historians of science Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. It identifies parallels between the global warming controversy and earlier controversies over tobacco smoking, acid rain, DDT, and the hole in the ozone layer. Oreskes and Conway write that in each case “keeping the controversy alive” by spreading doubt and confusion after a scientific consensus had been reached, was the basic strategy of those opposing action. In particular, they say that Fred Seitz, Fred Singer, and a few other contrarian scientists joined forces with conservative think tanks and private corporations to challenge the scientific consensus on many contemporary issues.
        … The book states that Seitz, Singer, Nierenberg and Robert Jastrow were all fiercely anti-communist and they viewed government regulation as a step towards socialism and communism. The authors argue that, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, they looked for another great threat to free market capitalism and found it in environmentalism. They feared that an over-reaction to environmental problems would lead to heavy-handed government intervention in the marketplace and intrusion into people’s lives.”
        Science being ‘misused’ and as a “tool” to move the NWO Agenda forward … and none of us ‘doubt’ that.


  2. Hi Terrant, while watching this Steve and you came to mind. I emailed him the link, sharing it with you here. It might seem ‘far reaching’ but it’s a testimony of someone that discovered he had a longing for Truth, some of his journey, with a happy ending.

    Liked by 1 person

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